The modern university city of ESKİŞEHİR is handily positioned on the new high-speed train line from Ankara, and therefore makes a potential stopover on the way from İstanbul, especially to those seeking to purchase trinkets made from meerschaum, or on their way to the charming village of Seyitgazi.
Eskişehir’s energetic mayor, Yılmaz Büyükerşen, recently implemented pleasing reforms such as pedestrianization of swathes of the centre, gentrification of the canal area, implementation of a flashy new tram system and restoration of an appealing district of Ottoman houses. Said buildings, located just west of the centre in a district named Eski Eskişehir, should be your focus if you choose to visit the city – imagine a miniature, pastel-painted version of Amasya or Safranbolu. Adjoining this area is the Kurşunlu Külliye, a recently renovated complex featuring a mosque and a meerschaum museum.Read More
Stretching between Seyitgazi and Afyon is a wonderful valley full of eerie rock formations, and dotted with Phrygian tombs, temples and fortifications. Midas Şehri is by far the most accessible and substantial Phrygian sight; its name means “City of Midas” in Turkish, but though there’s no specific Midas connection, for a while it was supposed that one of the Phrygian kings of that name was buried here.
The site itself comprises the sketchy ruins of a Phrygian city set on top of a thirty-metre-high plateau whose steep rock sides have been carved with elaborate decorative facades. The one on the northwestern face of the plateau has come to be known as the Midas tomb; following around to the west from here leads to more niches carved in the rock, a number of rock tombs and an incomplete relief.
Access to the upper part of the plateau and the remains of the Phrygian citadel is via a flight of steps on the eastern side. Near the top of the steps are a number of altars and tombs, some of which bear inscriptions and decorative reliefs. In the southwestern part of the citadel is a rock throne, a kind of stepped altar on which the figure of a deity would have been placed. The upper part of this throne has a clear inscription and crude decorative scratchings. Elsewhere a few fragments of the citadel’s defensive wall survive.
Literally “sea foam” in German, meerschaum is a porous white stone, large deposits of which are mined in the surrounding villages. While wet, the soft stone is carved into all manner of ornaments, but it’s the smoke-cooling properties of a meerschaum pipe that make it the most highly prized item. The mineral is worked in a number of shops around Eskişehir and with a little haggling it should be possible to pick up some bargains. The largest concentration of pipe shops is located under the Büyük Otel on İnönü Caddesi.